Newstart Allowance figures

 
E&OE

DAVID BEVAN: 
Anne Ruston is the Minister for Families and Social Services and she held a press conference yesterday to draw attention to a decrease in the number of people on Newstart. Good morning, Anne Ruston.
 
MINISTER RUSTON:       
Good morning Dave and Ali.
 
DAVID BEVAN: 
Why can't you create jobs and give people who can't get a job a decent welfare?
 
MINISTER RUSTON:       
Well David, the obvious question or obvious answer to that is we have to make some decisions around the amount of money that we spend more broadly in the economy. And we have as a government prioritised the spending and investment in the job market as the most important thing that we can do to assist people from getting off Newstart and into employment, because we actually believe that people want to get off unemployment and we believe they want to get a job. So that's why we're investing and focusing so strongly on employment as our means and our mechanism to assist these people.
 
DAVID BEVAN: 
So what do you say the figures are?
 
MINISTER RUSTON:       
Well, we've seen over the last twelve months a decrease of 42,000 Australians, working-age Australians, who are no longer receiving income support payments which is a really positive sign. That's a 5 per cent drop year on year for June 2018 to June 2019.
 
ALI CLARKE:       
But as part of that, while it might be dropping across the board, there are other places that have spiked. So in outback South Australia, for example, it's gone up 5 per cent year on year, so in the APY Lands. Do you know why that's occurring?
 
MINISTER RUSTON:       
Well look certainly, if you have a look across the whole nation, there are pockets and areas where we have seen a slight increase in the number of people on-receiving Newstart and Youth Allowance. And as you rightly point out, in outback north-east and lower north we have seen an increase and there will be isolated and locally focused - whether it be cyclical, seasonal or structural regions for unemployment in these areas - but across the whole of South Australia, we've actually seen South Australia punch above their weight from the national average. Whereas the national average is about 5 per cent decrease, in South Australia we've seen more than 5.5 per cent of working-age Australians coming off these income support payments.
 
DAVID BEVAN: 
Does the Government believe Newstart needs to be kept low as an incentive to get work?
 
MINISTER RUSTON:       
I think one of the most important things about Newstart is to provide that safety net, but at the same time, provide a whole heap of other things to assist people. It's not - I mean, the Government's responsibility when it comes to unemployment is not just making a safety net payment. We need to create jobs so that there are jobs for people to go into, but we also need to create pathways…
 
DAVID BEVAN: 
But does the government believe that there is a link between keeping it low and an incentive to get work?
 
MINISTER RUSTON:       
We believe that we have a suite of measures that need to be applied to assist people who haven't got a job to get a job. And as I said, it's not just about the payment. It's about creating the jobs, it's about creating the pathways so people can get to the jobs, but most importantly it's also understanding that there are for a number of people significant barriers to get in to employment and working with them to make sure we break down the barriers because we believe if you want a job, you should be able to get one.
 
DAVID BEVAN: 
So what do you say to unemployed people who will not get a job?
 
MINISTER RUSTON:       
Well, I believe that everybody, we need to work with everybody in Australia who doesn't have a job who wants to get a job. We need to work through their unique circumstances and to work out how we can break down the barriers that are preventing them from getting a job.
 
DAVID BEVAN: 
Yes, but we all know - but Minister, we all know there will be some people listening who are unemployed and they will not get a job. So what are they meant to do?
 
MINISTER RUSTON:       
Well, I'm not going to be as defeatist as that. I mean, last week on Friday I went out to headspace at Elizabeth and met with some young people who had been suffering from significant mental health conditions and anxiety conditions, and through a new program called Individual Placement Support, 500 young Australians who would have never thought that they were going to be able to get a job are now in employment. I think we need to deal with this on a case-by-case basis because I genuinely believe that everybody who is on Newstart with the right amount of assistance, we can help them into a job.
 
ALI CLARKE:       
Well Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston, thank you.
 
MINISTER RUSTON:       
My pleasure.